Las Posadas {with a freebie}

This week the 2nd graders have been reading The Legend of the Poinsettia.  Today, we spent some time focusing on Las Posadas since that is a major focus of the story.

First, we read the Nonfiction Reader from Rooted in Reading December to gain new information about the holiday.
We jotted down important facts and compared the holiday to Christmas in the United States.
Students worked on organizing their information using a graphic organizer suitcase that you can find HERE for free!  We used our Nonfiction Reader to check for facts and information!
Students wrote about the holiday underneath each flap and then used the Venn Diagram to compare.
It was a simple way to organize all of our new learning!  I get asked a lot "How do you teach the holidays without including the religious aspect?"  Well, friends... you don't have to leave it out!  Learning about other cultures is a part of the standards, and religion is a huge part of cultures.  Do I force the information down their throat and correct things I don't agree with?  No!  I just simply share the facts and we compare and contrast.  Las Posadas revolves around church and the manger scene, so it only makes sense to include it.
When you close the graphic organizer it becomes a suitcase!  Students added a poinsettia to the front cover and a handle to the top.  I kept seeing them carrying it around as a suitcase out of the corner of my eye :)
I found a box of cookies at my local grocery store that said they originated in Mexico, so I picked those up for the students to sample!  They loved the treats and begged for more :)  Learning about other holidays and cultures can be so fascinating for students (and adults!).  I didn't realize how many cookies were in a package, so now I'm left with a couple of extra boxes, ha!  I guess my babies at home will get a little culture experience too :)

Draw a Gingerbread Boy and Girl!

The other night Joelle asked if we could draw together.  She says this often, so I'm always trying to think of new things for us to create together.  Since we have Christmas decor all over our house it only made since to make something festive!  We decided to draw a gingerbread boy and girl to send to her grandparents as a Christmas card.  I thought you might like this for your students to make before the holiday break, so I'm going to share the instructions with you!
To make the girl:
1.  Draw a circle at the top of the page.  
2.  Draw the outfit and arms/legs.
3.  Add the icing squiggles to the head, arms, and legs.
4.  Draw the dress details and the bow.
5.  Draw the face.
To make the boy:
1.  Draw a circle at the top of the page for the head.
2.  Draw the outfit and arms/legs.
3.  Draw the icing squiggles on the head, arms, and legs.
4.  Draw the outfit details.
5.  Draw the face.
I sure do love drawing with my little second grader.  Sometimes I put off her requests until she forgets about it, but I never regret it when I actually take the time to sit down and complete an activity with her!  I just know her KK and Poppy will love getting these in the mail!

What is Magic of Math All About?

When Hope and I began creating the Magic of Math monthly units, we had a lot of discussions about what we wanted it to look like.  We knew that it had to be interactive, engaging, and FUN (for the students and teachers).  We also knew that it would NOT consist of worksheets and repetitive activities that would bore the students.  So, we decided that our math units would need to consist of mini-lessons, word problems, student activities, interactive notebook entries, and assessments that would engage little learners each week.  When I say that these units are a labor of love, I truly mean that.  We create each and every single one from scratch.  We don't just change out clip art or numbers for each unit.  The activities and lessons have been created uniquely for each specific skill.  So, before I show you each component, let me answer a few commonly asked questions.

Q:  What grade levels are these units for?
A:  We have a 2nd grade series and a 3rd grade series that we are currently creating.

Q:  Are these meant to be taught as supplemental lessons or as an entire curriculum?
A:  Either one!  We have developed each day so that you can use it as your main resource (of course it's always important to check your district and state requirements to make sure you are covering everything expected).  BUT, if you already have a resource that you are required to follow, you can also just pick and choose activities from each unit that you want to incorporate into your day.  You may just want to play some of the games or use the interactive notebook components.  We definitely don't expect everyone to follow it exactly like we have it planned out.  Teachers are professionals and are capable of reaching their students' needs!  So, use the whole thing OR use the pieces you like best!

Q:  How long do the materials take to prep?
A:  That really varies.  While we try to keep the teacher in mind, we also know that meaningful and active learning is not a no-prep process.  You may need to gather extra materials, make a chart, do a little cutting... but we believe that once you've done that for a unit you will be all set for next year!  We use colored paper while creating the units, but it is not necessary.  It just makes for pretty pictures :)

Q:  How long do you need each day to fit in all of the components?
A:  We know that different states, districts, and schools have different time requirements.  It's hard to say there is a cookie-cutter way to plan your math block.  You may have 60 minutes or you may have 90-120 minutes.  We have tried to include as much as possible so that the teacher with a really long math block has everything they need to fill that time.  BUT, we also realize that it is too much for some of you.  That's when you just sit down and pick out the activities that you think will be most appropriate and meaningful for the time you have allotted.  In my opinion, I think students need at least 75-90 minutes of math a day.

In a nutshell, Magic of Math units are jam-packed with materials that will get your learners VERY excited about math.  My daughter has gone from dreading math each day to really grasping and loving it.  Her teacher uses components of the units, but also incorporates other things that she has done over the years and it really works for their classroom!  Joelle absolutely LOVES the games and hands-on activities that we create!

In the pictures I've included below you will see a mixture of 2nd and 3rd grade pictures from all the units we have created.  We wanted you to see how much things vary from unit to unit! 
The lesson plans are your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about each day.  It includes the objectives, focus skill, materials needed, vocabulary words, word problems of the day AS WELL AS instructions for the mini-lessons, activities, and interactive notebooks.  This is where we explain it all!

In each unit we create vocabulary cards that can be displayed and used throughout the unit.  We put the word and a model of that term on the card.  If you laminate these you can save them for years to come!  Some words repeat from unit to unit because we are trying to spiral throughout the year.
Thanks to @thirdgradeparade for sharing how she displays our vocab words in her classroom!

Each unit includes 20 word problems that can be used daily.  In some of the units we also focus our daily lesson plans on teaching multi-step word problems.  We provide key words, strategies, and student materials that will assist you in conquering word problems with different skills.  Word problems are heavily addressed in third grade to prepare students for their state assessments.  For 2nd grade, we begin slow and build throughout the year.
The nature of our mini-lessons vary from day to day and unit to unit.  Here is where a lot of modeling and whole-group games/activities happen.  You'll notice that at the beginning of the week or unit you are doing a lot of the teaching during this time.  As the students master the skill, this section includes games for review or to enhance their knowledge.  You'll find anchor charts, videos for teaching, websites to enhance instruction, and games for the entire class.

This is my favorite part of each day and it is the most diverse section of the unit!  Your students will be playing games with a partner, practicing the skill, completing scoots, and so much more during the student activity section.  It's very student-centered!
A lot of people ask "If you don't include worksheets, how do you take grades?"  This is such a simple question to answer... We use interactive notebooks or recording sheets from the activity section to take grades.  I'll also show you the quick assessments next that can be used as weekly or bi-monthly grades.  I think we have to get it out of our head that we can only grade worksheets.  You can grade daily word problems, games they play, and so much more!  The interactive notebook section is where students take everything they have learned during the mini-lesson and/or activity and put that knowledge to use!  They will complete independent activities to show mastery of that skill!
Of course, we know that teachers need to see if their students have mastered a skill or where the reteaching needs to happen.  We include quick assessments that are formed based on the skills for the week.  The questions vary to include equations, vocabulary, and word problems.  We try to mix it up each week!
 
 We still have units 5-9 to complete.  Like I said above, they are a labor of love and take quite some time to create.  I promise we work diligently so that they get to you in a timely manner! You can check out the year overview HERE to see what we have coming up!

Units 5-9 will completed over the next few months.  We are working hard, I promise!  You can see the 3rd grade year overview HERE!

Still not sure what it's all about?  Check out our sample days to get a better picture :)
Hope and I are just so thankful for each and every sweet comment, picture, and story people share about Magic of Math.  Thank you for warming our hearts!

Reindeer Round-Up

Over the years we have had a lot of fun with reindeer in the classroom.  I thought I would round-up some of the ideas I've used plus show you a couple of new things :)
This is a super simple and CHEAP ornament or keepsake to make.  Just grab yourself some brown paint, googly eyes, and red poms!
After the handprints dried I cut around them and glued red paper behind the hand just to give it a little pop.  I laminated those for durability and hot-glued the googly eyes and poms to make a finished project!
We have also made these reindeer ornaments using clear glass bulbs, brown paper, googly eyes, red poms, and red pipe cleaners.  I got this idea from First Grade Blue Skies HERE.
Reindeer, or Caribou, or actually really interesting animals to research!  Katie and I included lots of reindeer research (and a nonfiction reader) in our Rooted in Reading special edition!  
To make it even more fun, we made this little reindeer booklet to hold all of our research.  You could certainly use it with a fiction book as well!  You just flip up the body and all of the pages are underneath!
Here are some books I've found that pair well with reindeer research:
    
  There are so many cute books to read during the Christmas season, it's almost impossible to get to them all!  My students love reading about Rudolph and writing letters to him (which if you research you will learn that male reindeer actually shed their antlers in the winter so Rudolph should be a girl!)  BUT, this reindeer craft can be found HERE!
 
Here are some really cute reindeer fiction books that we love:
 

       
 One can never have too  many crafts (in my opinion), so Katie and I included this craft in our new unit as well.
 In those last few days before break we found ourselves completing a few directed drawings.  You can find the tutorial for this reindeer drawing from ARTventurous HERE!
 They also make for too-cute Christmas card covers!
You can grab all of the resources mentioned above plus everything else for 28% off during Cyber Monday {and Tuesday}!